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By 8 June 2011 | Categories: news

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As the gaming world waited with bated breath, last night at the E3 gaming expo in Los Angeles Nintendo unveiled the so-called Wii U, its long rumoured new console and tablet/handheld hybrid controller.

The compact new console shares some similarities to the Wii and will be fully backwards compatible. Users will also still use the motion sensitive remotes that made the Wii famous, and the Wii U also supports HD gameplay.

The really impressive part of the new console is actually its controller though, featuring a 6.2” display, accelerometer, gyroscope, camera and a microphone and speakers. The new controller looks almost like a modern tablet except for the two analog circle pads and classic Nintendo control pad buttons found on the device.

The Wii U is set to turn home entertainment into an even more comfortable affair by removing the traditional boundaries between watching TV and playing games. In its E3 demonstration video (posted below) we can for example see one user playing Wii, with another coming in and changing the channel to display baseball. As the channel is changed the game screen simply jumps from the TV to the Wii U, and the other person can keep on playing.

The video also demonstrates a user watching video content on the Wii U and simply dragging the video window from the tablet toward the TV. The video then abruptly jumped over and started displaying on the TV.

The Wii U can also be incorporated into existing Wii gameplay, with an example showing a user placing the Wii U on the ground during a golf game, with a golf ball appearing on its screen that flew off again as the player swung his Wii remote. Another example demonstrated a player throwing shuriken (ninja stars) at passing targets simply by swiping his hand over the Wii U.

During single player games the controller can also display different information than is seen on the screen, so while playing Zelda for example, players can view their map and inventory on the tablet while playing on the TV simultaneously.

Users can also draw full fledged art pieces using a stylus on the Wii U, and the controller also supports motion-sensing gameplay so you can use it together with your Wii remotes during games. Each Wii U unit will be partnered with a new controller as well as having the ability to support an additional four Wii remotes.

“Wii U redefines the structure of home entertainment by fundamentally changing how the TV, the game console and the Internet function together,” said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. “The experience enabled by Wii U and the new controller takes players deeper into their games, while reaching out wider than ever before to be inviting to all kinds of gamers.”

We're still waiting on the full specs lists of the Wii U console and controller, although it's important to note that the device is still in the prototype phase. 

The company made it clear that the Wii U remote is not a stand-alone system, but needs to be paired to the Wii U game console. It's expected to launch sometime in 2012.

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